Marinades and sauces were very important in ancient Roman cuisine. Among them, the garum: it was a salty, aromatic, fish-based sauce. It was so popular that several kinds of amphorae were dedicated exclusively to garum commerce.The two-handled jars, with narrow necks, were about three feet  long and were of various shapes, usually pointed or rounded on the bottom (Figure 1). The pointed bottoms allowed large numbers of amphorae to be stacked upright in rows in the hold of ships (Figure 2). The bottom rows were placed in wooden supports or embedded in sand. Dunnage, such as twigs and branches or straw, was stuffed between the jars in the upper rows. 

The Romans prepared many kinds of garum using fatty fishes, like sardines, mackerels, eels, but also fish entrails and bowels. The different kinds were called garum, muria, oxygarum, liquamen etc.
The Romans called hallex a different sauce, prepared picling fish entrails, not yet liquid.


During the I Century B.C. the best garum came from Cartagena region (Spain): the producers joined in an important organization that exported the well-known brand called Garum Sociorum.

In a large pot they added dried, strong flavoured herbs: oregano, savory, mint, myrtle, cumin, dill, rosemary, sage and others, sometimes adding also onions and salted capers. 
Then a layer of fresh fishes (whole if small, chopped if large) and over this, a layer of marine salt 2-3cm thick. They repeated the layers until the pot was full. 
Then, they sealed the pot and left it resting in the sun for a week. 
In the following three weeks the sauce was mixed daily; then it was was squeezed and filtered, and the liquid garum poured in jars and amphorae. 

The taste of the garum was in some way similar to a very strong, salty and dense Worcestershire sauce, or to a sardine paté.

The garum was the base of a number of recipes: for exemple, the Romans were very fond of mussels cooked in a sauce made mixing garum, strong wine, savory, cumin and chopped onion.